The First Chapter of 2021: Choosing Our Own Adventure

We have just opened up the first chapter of 2021, which is already exciting with that ‘new book’ smell and the crisp pages. Of course, it’s a ‘choose your own adventure’ book, where we know only some of the characters and nothing about the full plot or ending.

We’ll navigate our way through plot twists and turns, hoping we’ve made good choices. I always like to say with decisions, that I made the best decision based on the information available at the time. Of course, we all do that, don’t we?

Usually when we look back at things that didn’t go our way, we are also often thankful that they worked out as they did. Otherwise we wouldn’t have learned, or grown, or adjusted our sails to shift directions.

As the great Maya Angelou wrote, “Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.” Of course 2020 was difficult, challenging, and a seemingly constant shift between anxiety, grief, and fear – yet it was also a year that we realized simply ‘still standing,’ was an achievement of resilience and that we grew in many ways.

I’m grateful that 2020 is behind us and cautiously hopeful that 2021 will be kinder and gentler. How I long for the movie night out in a packed theater or dinner with friends.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we must cherish our people. We need to keep reaching out even virtually, to those close to us and keep putting effort into maintaining relationships.

We also must protect the most vulnerable, whether we know them or not. Simply reaching out to a neighbor to check in on them or pick up groceries, has strengthened our communities and hopefully will be something we build on in 2021 after the dust settles and vaccines received.

I don’t want us to return to the exact “normal” that we left in 2019. I hope we grow into a “better normal” this year, where we are more mindful about looking after each other, more patient knowing that everyone is struggling with something, and overall more constructive in terms of practical help.

We are always choosing our own adventure, every day. Let’s choose to be kind and compassionate, over judgmental and louder. None of us know how our choices throughout the year will structure the plot we experience in 2021, nor do we know what plot twists we’ll experience. That said, what we do know is that our resilience as humans relies upon helping each other.

My hope for this year is that we build on the challenging lessons learned in 2020, to construct a new plot line where we are all able to find joy, provide comfort to those who need it, and to forgive ourselves and others for not being perfect. Deep breaths, friends, as we turn the page into this brand new adventure. Courage!

Finding Joy in 2020

While it hardly feels like 2019 ‘is so last year’ yet, we have indeed embarked on a new decade and a new year. Usually the new year brings along ideas of resolutions or simply goals for what things should fall into the ‘out with the old,’ and what we should add ‘in with the new.’ Maybe it’s more gym time or finally taking that trip, or learning a new language. Whatever you’ve settled on, I wish you godspeed in 2020.

Last year, my resolution was to publish a new novel – and, I’m happy to report that I did so and it was great fun to share Christmas at Maplemont Manor with the world! For those who have read it, I do hope that you enjoyed the holiday splendor and joy of the season that I had aimed to share. Writing it (especially the pun-filled chapter titles) brought me such joy – it really was terrific fun. As a self-published author, I write for the simple joy of it!

This year, my focus is 100% on spending more time on things that bring me joy. For me, that list includes downhill skiing, cooking awesome food, spending time with friends, reading interesting books, and traveling someplace new.

Since it’s still (happily) winter, my favorite of the seasons, I’ve started with the goal of downhill skiing every week while the snow lasts! I basically grew up on skis, in a little mountain town where we lived minutes from a ski hill. I started skiing about the same time that I learned to walk. That said, I’m not an Olympian skier, however, there’s something about skiing that brings me joy.

It’s that same spark of joy that I experience from opening the oven to smell fresh cardamom rolls that I’ve made from scratch, which is now something I do most weeks. I think our jobs as humans is to find these experiences that bring us joy and then incorporate them into our lives as much as possible.

Sometimes we tend to go overboard with the idea of ‘joy’ – like it should be something big that others notice, that it must be pursued in some dramatic fashion, or that it’s fleeting. I think that joy is around all the time, but we do need to take a breath to notice it and enjoy the moments. Today, for example, one of my moments of joy was making the perfect cup of coffee in my new french press.

My hope for all of us in 2020 is that we find and celebrate those moments and we embrace the things and people that bring us joy. Life short – find your joy! It’s most likely right in front of you!